It’s one of Australia’s most cosmopolitan cities! If you’re looking for a short perfect itinerary, here’s how to spend 3 days in Melbourne!
Melbourne is undoubtedly one of the best cities in Australia.
It wears many different hats, being the sports capital of the world, the arts and cultural capital of Australia and a mecca for foodies as well.
Certainly, Melbourne’s appeal lies in the fact that it has something to offer most travellers, no matter what their preference.
It’s a big, bustling place, surrounded by suburbs, each with their own distinct feel and flavour. Plus, you’re never too far from nature, even when you’re in the middle of the city’s CBD (Central Business District).
3 Days in Melbourne Itinerary
It is entirely possible to experience Melbourne in three days. Here’s an itinerary to work with, to see as much of the city in as little time as possible.
Day One – Exploring the CBD
You’ll spend your first of 3 days in Melbourne hanging out in the CBD, where many of the best-known sights and attractions are located.
Check out Flinders St Station and Federation Square
Kick off your time in Melbourne by getting yourself acquainted with Flinders Street Station.
It’s the central transport hub of the city and a good place to base yourself, if you get lost or need to meet someone in the city (locals tend to meet under the clocks that line the entrance).
The building itself is one of the oldest in the city and the prettiest, too. Most interesting is the presence of a decaying ballroom on the third floor that is only open to visitors on specific dates (such as Open House Melbourne and even then, not every year the event is held).
Federation Square is across the road from Flinders Street and houses some lively bars and eating areas, outdoor entertainment screens from which the sports are usually projected and ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.
ACMI holds regularly exhibitions based in art, culture and film, so be sure to check out their website before arriving, to see if anything piques your interest!
Have a Poke Around the Laneways
Melbourne’s laneways are world famous, mostly due to the urban art and graffiti that is splattered across their surfaces.
The best known laneways for art are Hosier Lane (which is directly opposite Fed Square), Tattersalls Lane, Union Lane and AC/DC Lane, which is named after the Australian rock band, something that becomes evident when you see it for yourself.
For food, visit Degraves Street, Centre Place or Hardware Lane.
It’s well worth wandering around and seeing what you unearth. I ducked into a random, quiet laneway once to find a photography exhibition had been plastered on its walls, a very pleasing moment indeed.
You never know what’s going to turn up on your Melbourne trip!
Tour the MCG
If you’re sporting mad, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to check out the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, also known as “The MCG” or simply, “The G” (the shorter, the better in Australia).
If sport is a religion, then the MCG is Melbourne’s cathedral. It’s the largest sports stadium in Australia and the tenth largest in the world.
As the name would suggest, cricket is played on the grounds, but in the wintertime it becomes the home grounds of Aussie Rules, the main league of which is called the AFL.
It’s well worth catching a game if you visit Melbourne during the footy season, which runs from late March ‘til October.
If not, you can still tour the grounds and learn a bit about Australia’s sporting history.
Visit the NGV
A far step away from the sports, is the National Gallery of Victoria, one of loveliest art galleries in the country.
It regularly features acclaimed international exhibitions, housing works by Escher, Van Gogh, Calver and Dior in recent times.
Entry to the permanent collection is free and most exhibitions are fairly reasonably priced at under $30 AUD.
It’s well worth spending a couple of hours wandering around the NGV, although it’s best to either get there early or visit on a weekday to avoid excessive crowds.
Check out the Shrine of Remembrance and the Royal Botanic Gardens
From the NGV you can walk across St Kilda Road to have a look at the Shrine of Remembrance and the beautiful Botanic Gardens.
The Shrine pays homage to Australia’s fallen soldiers and is free to enter. You should climb to the top, where you’ll be rewarded of views of the city.
The Botanic Gardens are a short walk away from there. Entry is free, but you will have to pay if you want to do any tours, or go punting on the garden’s lake.
I thoroughly recommend the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, where you’ll see a traditional smoking ceremony, drink lemon myrtle tea and learn about the plants which are an integral part of Australia’s Indigenous culture.
Grab Dinner at Chinatown
All this walking and sightseeing will have made you ravenous, so head back into the beating heart of the city, to stroll around Chinatown.
Melbourne’s Chinatown dates back to the 1850’s, where the gold rush era brought an influx of Chinese migrants, keen on making their fortunes in Australia.
Many stuck around and Chinatown is now one of the busiest parts of the city, with plenty of restaurants, bars and shops to explore. Definitely not to be missed on your 3 days in Melbourne itinerary.
Day Two – Getting Out Into the ‘Burbs
It’s time to leave the city centre and start exploring the surrounding suburbs!
This is an activity that could eat up several of your days in the city, but if you’re tight on time, you’ll be better served sticking to one or two, close to the CBD.
In this instance, we’re going to visit Collingwood and Fitzroy, two of the better known suburbs of Melbourne.
We’ll start with Collingwood, a suburb popular among young professionals, which is colourful, hip and almost painfully trendy.
Take a Street Art Tour
Collingwood and nearby Fitzroy are full to the brim with urban art.
You can wander around, taking your own self-tour or alternatively, take an organised tour of the area.
An organised tour can be helpful in many instances, as you’ll hear the backstories of much of the art and the artists behind them (the art can sometimes seem as though it needs explaining).
Check out the Abbotsford Convent
The Convent spreads over 16 acres and is Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct. It’s home to studios, galleries, a school, a radio station, parks, restaurants and cafes.
Most notable is Lentil As Anything, a vegetarian cafe and social enterprise where you pay what you believe the food is worth or whatever you can afford.
Visit the Collingwood Children’s Farm
Nearby is the Collingwood Children’s Farm, which you don’t have to be a littlee to enjoy.
It’s one of Melbourne’s urban farms, with a heap of sheep, cows, horses and chickens onsite, amongst other animals.
Grab a craft beer
Australia has an excellent craft beer scene, worth sampling.
In Collingwood, head to The Stomping Ground, an independent brewery in the area and try their wares.
If you’re not a fan of beer (guilty as charged, here), they have a good and tasty selection of ciders on hand, too.
From Collingwood, we’ll head on to nearby Fitzroy, for a lazy afternoon and evening spent browsing local stores and eating.
Go shopping on Brunswick Street
There’s some great shopping to be had in Fitzroy, particularly on Brunswick Street, the main street of the suburb.
Pretty much everything is on offer – boutique clothing and gift stores, stationary, homewares and plenty of thrift store (or op-shops as we call them in Australia).
This is not a great activity if you’re on a budget, unless you enjoy window shopping, in which case – go for your life!
Have a meal at Naked for Satan
Naked for Satan offers up fine dining, with a view.
This tapas restaurant has a rooftop area, where you can sit either indoors or outside, to watch the sun go down over the city.
I’d recommend booking a table in advance to avoid disappointment.
If you’re wondering where else to stay in Melbourne, there are a quite a few other suburbs that are worth exploring as options.
Day Three – Take a Trip to the Seaside and Paint the Town Red
It’s your last day in Melbourne! Today you’ll be heading south, to check out the suburbs of St Kilda and nearby Brighton, before heading back into the city to sample its renowned nightlife.
St Kilda is easily accessible from the city via several trams (the 3, 16, 64 and 67 will all get you to St Kilda).
There are a few sights worth seeing in St Kilda.
Check out St Kilda Pier
Walk along the jetty to check out the historic pier, where you can grab a coffee and watch locals fish or walk their dogs.
Stroll around Luna Park
Luna Park opened in 1912 and is the oldest continuously running theme park in the country. Sydney has one too, but it has been closed down a couple of times – once due to a fire on the ghost train but mostly due to people who move nearby and then complain about the noise. Huh.
Its most famous ride is the Scenic Railway, a rollercoaster that runs around the park’s perimeter.
Don’t forget to snap a picture under the giant face that serves as the entrance to the park, which definitely won’t induce nightmares for you later on that night. Hrmm.
Have a Drink by the Beach
Melbourne’s beaches are somewhat lacking, but it is nice to chill out in one of the bars or restaurants that line St Kilda Beach, with a tipple and a bowl of chips, if you feel so inclined.
Pose in Front of the Iconic Beach Boxes at Brighton Beach
You might have seen some pictures of brightly coloured beach boxes floating around the Internet and wondered where in Melbourne you can find them
They’re located in an affluent suburb east of the city, called Brighton.
You can get there from St Kilda, by catching the Sandringham line train from Balaclava Station to Brighton Beach.
There are 82 of these boxes lining the shore and they’re considered a status symbol. Ownership is open to locals only and they’re not cheap, costing upwards of $300,000 AUD.
They rarely come up for sale as well, with most being passed down through families.
Head Back to the City for a Night of Fun
From Brighton, you can catch the train back into the city (which should take around half an hour) and head into town.
Melbourne has a pulsating night scene, with many cool bars littered across the city. Some are themed, others are hidden, most are great fun to drink in.
If you want you can even join an awesome guided small bar tour of Melbourne to find some of the best and up-and-coming spots in the city.
Here’s a few worth considering.
A themed bar in the city where you can choose to sit in ritzy, upmarket “West Berlin”, or grungier “East Berlin”.
- Address: 2/16 Corrs Ln, Melbourne
Not the cheapest of bars, but as it sits on the 55th floor of the Rialto building, it has some grand views of the city. Perfect for watching Crown Casino’s hourly light show.
- Address: 525 Collins St, Melbourne
Another upmarket but swanky bar, where drinks are organised by era, from 1650 to today.
- Address: 169 Exhibition St, Melbourne
The Croft Institute
A trendy bar, popular amongst young things. The decor inside resembles a lab and the cocktails look like science experiments gone mad (think lots of bright colours).
- Address: 21 Croft Alley, Melbourne
Feels a bit like you’re drinking and dining at a fancy garden party, plus there’s a nice rooftop area.
- Address: 59 Bourke St
Fall from Grace
Hidden bar, located in State of Grace – you have to navigate a sliding bookcase door to enter. The inside is delightfully kitschy and the staff some of the nicest in the city.
- Address: 27 King St, Melbourne
You can collapse into bed at any hour which suits you, because Melbourne has no lockout laws UNLIKE SYDNEY.
So, there you have it – the best of Melbourne in three days. It can be done, although I’d thoroughly recommend giving yourself at least five days to explore this city and surrounds properly.
A few Notes on Transport
If you’re arriving by plane to Tullamarine airport, you’ll have to catch the Skybus into the city, unless you’re hiring a car. Rideshare apps like Uber and Ola also service the airport.
There is no train from the airport to the city, which is crazy, but that’s just how things are at this point in time. You can ask where the taxpayer’s dollars go but I won’t have an answer for you as I don’t know myself.
Melbourne’s transport system can be accessed by using a Myki card. They cost $6 AUD and can be bought from the airport, most news agencies and at train stations. You can’t top up a myki on the buses or trams.
The city has an area known as the Tram Free Zone (see a map of the area here). You don’t have to touch your Myki on or off when travelling in this part of the city.
Announcements on the tram will let you know when you’re entering and leaving the Tram Free Zone.
The City Circle Tram is also worth jumping on, if you’ve got the time. These older looking trams are designed for tourists and will give you a better understanding of where everything is located in the city.
Download the PTV (Public Transport Victoria) app to keep across timetables and the inevitable delays.